As wireless controls spread, can Dali survive?

This year's Light + Building exhibition in Frankfurt has shown the extent to which wired control systems are being replaced by wireless alternatives which talk to other building management systems like heating and ventilation.

Osram, Philips, Havells-Sylvania, Samsung, Harvard and Lucibel are just a few of the companies with wireless ‘smart’ lighting products on show.

‘The market is moving away from a centrally controlled, addressable paradigm to more autonomous systems which are completely wireless and require no commissioning,’ said Danny Bishop of Organic Response – which makes a system that allows individual luminaires to communicate with each other via infrared. Bishop says it works ‘by sharing information between the light fixtures, in essence creating a smart sensor network. This network has an incredible value proposition to a whole bunch of other systems within a building because the occupancy information can be used for all the other systems’.

As systems become more sophisticated, they are going beyond simply lighting control to become lighting management systems.

Francois Seguineau, the head of Toshiba’s lighting business in Europe, told Lux Review: ‘We try to provide “smart ready” lighting, which allows each luminaire to be connected to systems that manage energy, including cooling and heating. It’s part of the digitalisation of the world and will allow new players to enter the LED market, not just to produce light but to transfer information.’

This is a welcome development for many lighting professionals, including those who spoke at the Smart Lighting Controls conference in London last month. At that time, lighting designer Dominic Meyrick said: ‘Lighting controls were originally theatrical but now they need to deliver information. If we can talk to more systems, we can get more information.’